By Sports Reporter
CAPS United’s hopes of landing the 2019 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League championship received a major boost after their title rivals FC Platinum and Chicken Inn dropped points at home in their league matches on Saturday.
Champions FC Platinum’s title aspirations suffered a blow after being held to a goalless draw by Highlanders at Mandava Stadium while there was also no joy for fellow title chasers Chicken Inn who were held to a one-all draw by Hwange at Luveve.
The two results leave CAPS United in a strong position and well poised to extend their lead to four points when they take on relegation threatened minnows Yadah at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Highlanders were eager to put the spanners in the works of FC Platinum as they fielded their in-form striker Prince Dube, who travelled overnight from Harare to Zvishavane after his substitute appearance for the Warriors in their AFCON qualifier against Botswana.
Dube, who is expected to rejoin the national team as they head to Zambia, had a subdued match as he was tightly monitored by Lawrence Mhlanga.
FC Platinum’s best opportunity in the match came early in the second half when Gift Mbweti’s powerful header hit the upright while Bosso also threatened to break the deadlock through Brian Banda after his powerful shot was acrobatically parried away by Francis Tizayi.
Never Tigere also had a good chance to seal all three points for FC Platinum but was denied by Ariel Sibanda from point-blank range.
FC Platinum coach Lizwe Sweswe was happy with the draw.
“It’s a point gained and what’s left for us is to keep fighting until the race ends. We had the bulk of our players injured but we cannot lament much about that,” Sweswe said.
“Highlanders brought the game to us and we had to fight hard to stop them as the game was going end to end. We are hoping to win the next match against Chapungu. I pray that fortune favours us in the remaining fixtures,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the other high profile match, Chicken Inn also wasted a good opportunity to go to the top of the log after being held by Hwange at home.
The Gamecocks opened the scoring in the 21st minute through George Majika but the 69th penalty from Ernest Gwitima gave Chipangano an away point in the encounter.
Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas, who flew to Bulawayo on the morning of the match from Harare where he watched the Warriors’ draw against Botswana in a 2021 AFCON qualifier, blamed the congested fixture list for his team’s woes.
“The amount of games we are having of late is too much, it’s just hectic. It is like we are living in prehistoric times but these players are not horses.
“But there is nothing we can do. PSL does not look at these factors. This is all due to their poor planning and they are just loading us with games. This should not be happening,” Antipas said.
As the PSL title heads for the home stretch with three games to go, Chicken In remain in second position on 53 points, while FC Platinum, who have the same number of points are third due to an inferior goal difference.
Log leaders CAPS United (54 points) can increase their lead at the top to four points with a victory against Yadah at the National Sports Stadium.
Premier Soccer League results and fixtures
Yesterday: FC Platinum 0-0 Highlanders, Ngezi Platinum Stars 0-0 Chapungu, Chicken Inn 1-1 Hwange, TelOne 1-0 Triangle United, Herentals 2-0 Mushowani Stars
Sunday Fixtures: Dynamos v Black Rhinos (Rufaro), Yadah v CAPS United (National Sports Stadium), Manica Diamonds v Bulawayo Chiefs (Vengere), ZPC Kariba v Harare City (Nyamhunga)